In 1823–1824 Samuel Clowes prepared preliminary budget estimates for the construction of an inland waterway from Kingston, on Lake Ontario, to the Ottawa River in Upper Canada. An in-depth analysis of Clowes’ budget estimates explores their visual aspects: how the form and structure of the estimates are visual and how descriptive commentary included in the estimates aids readers in visualizing the proposed canal. The article then examines how the budget estimates are used for rhetorical purposes. The estimates are rhetorical both directly and indirectly. The ordered and logical visual form and structure of the estimates supports their rationality; claims of rationality are used in turn for rhetorical purposes. Further, properties of the estimates which allow readers to visualize the canal are rhetorical in their own right. Thus this article contributes to an understanding of early capital budgeting practices in canal building in North America, as well as to an understanding of accounting and budgeting as visual, rational and rhetorical.

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Keywords Budgeting, rationality, rhetoric, Rideau Canal, visuals
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Journal Accounting History
Bujaki, M. (2015). Visualizing the Rideau Canal through early budget estimates, 1823–1824. Accounting History, 20(1), 43–62. doi:10.1177/1032373214556288